Manhattan, NY The Grinnell is proof that solar can work for cooperatives and condominiums throughout NYC. The 82-unit cooperative on Riverside Dr. showcases that the community solar model, or Community Distributed Generation (CDG), can and should be used, given the building setup, as an option for keeping solar affordable. The 115 kilowatt solar PV system will create 10,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy from the sun every month, which equates to 40% of the building’s total electricity use. This is also one of the first installations of CDG at a co-op or condo in NYC, one of the first on a historically landmarked building, and one of the first ten installations in NYS. A ribbon cutting for the solar model was held on April 25th.
Bright Power designed, installed, and is now monitoring the system reporting its performance to the board. Going solar had been a long-term goal of the cooperative’s board but figuring out a way to make it cost-effective was the real challenge. Before CDG existed, it was tough to make solar work financially for cooperatives and condominiums. With traditional, non-CDG solar models for co-ops and condos, the system size is often limited by small common area usage, and therefore the value of electricity produced is less. Furthermore, common area electric prices are lower per kWh than unit-level meter costs. As a result, CDG helps not only increase the size of the system but also enables shareholders to access more value by using the clean electricity at the unit meter-level. With community solar and a unique metering configuration, shareholders at The Grinnell receive credits with the CDG model, as well as additional tax incentives for generating clean power on-site.
The board created a loan from building funds to pay for the community solar project. Monthly credits on shareholders’ electricity bills will come from the utility based on the production from the solar system. Those credits will also help pay off that loan. The lucrative tax incentives the shareholders and building received also helped make this project financially viable. Through this unique approach, The Grinnell was able to reduce its carbon footprint in a cost-effective way.
The array will produce around 40 percent of the shareholder’s residential electricity usage.
“We are thrilled to have worked with such a forward thinking board and hope others follow The Grinnell’s example, bringing more community distributed generation to co-ops and condos," said Husna Anwar, project manager for Bright Power’s On-Site Generation team.
“We wanted to show people they could actually do solar in a way that could save money on their individual unit costs. It’s a double-e win: environment and economics,” said Alan Gardner, a green committee member for The Grinnell.